Guest blogger Jim
21 January 2017 | Alse Marin
When I placed a post on the Cruisers Forum (which my wife jokingly refers to as the sailor's dating site) under the heading of Crew Available, it did feel a bit like setting myself up on a "blind date". I was essentially putting myself "out there", offering my limited sailing experience to a stranger who needed an extra pair of hands on board. On land, friends would set you up with someone, invariably described as having a "nice personality" and, typically, the encounter would be a failure and you'd part ways with an empty promise to call one another. No harm done. But committing to a nine-day long sailing trip requires a real leap of faith, a "go with the flow" attitude and a penchant for adventure. Greg, to his credit, replied to the posting, and offered a spot on his 40' boat, Mile High Dream. I was pretty confidant Greg would be a decent guy - he was from my home state of Colorado (known for producing active, adventurous relaxed outdoorsmen and women), had several years of sailing experience and, for at least the past two seasons, had been cobbling together family, friends and acquaintances to join him on different legs of his sailing journey through the Caribbean. I was fairly confidant we would get along, I could help onboard and I would gain some valuable experience.
What I received from my nine days was a good dose of sailing knowledge during the course of four passages; an insightful look into the cruiser's world, where it's not only swimming off the back of the boat (did that every day), sundowners in the cockpit (did that too), hiking onshore and relaxing at cool beach bars (check and check); but also a morning spent repairing a finicky outboard motor, searching for a replacement pump part, taking half a day to find an open customs office to check out, the constant opening and closing of hatches as tropical showers passed by, and making sure objects are secured each evening to ensure an errant water bottle or empty beer can won't go rolling around the cockpit overhead, forcing a late night stumble in the dark trying to find the source of the annoying noise (turned out to be the small propane canister from the barbeque). Then there is the eternal quest for internet. Each day a trip ashore was made to find a cafe or bar with a wifi signal so emails could be read and sent, blogs could be updated and, most importantly, weather reports accessed. Of course, beer would be consumed, and "internet time" would become "happy hour". Eventually, technological tasks completed, our crew of three would retire to the boat for dinner, accompanied by a nice bottle of French wine (courtesy of the well-stocked grocers on Martinique) and then lounge in the cockpit while sipping good St. Lucian rum. Ah, the life of the cruiser.
We parted ways a couple days ago, with plans to meet up again when Greg visits Antigua, where I'm currently living, sometime in the early spring. "I'll call you", I said as I left. I meant it, too.